Aramaic "bar" in Proverbs 31

ianyoung at ianyoung at
Wed Jan 16 05:40:02 EST 2002


Why would you assume the section is written by Solomon, when it says it is
written by a King Lemuel?  Many scholars read it as Lemuel king of Massa, in
North Arabia (Gen 25:14) by redividing the verse and taking the word
translated in your quote by 'prophecy' as a proper noun 'Massa'.

Aramaic was certainly around in Solomon's time according to the Biblical
account- the Arameans are mentioned several times in the stories about David
and Solomon.  We don't have to suggest Aramaic impact on everyday Hebrew to
account for Aramaisms in Wisdam literature, since it is commonly suggested
that Aramaic was the primary language that the international Wisdom genre was
expressed in.  Using Aramaisms in Wisdom literature might have just been good
style.  According to these common scholarly ideas, it is irrelevant whether
Aramaisms like bar appear in non-Wisdom genres, as it is likewise irrelevant
how much impact we imagine Aramaic to have had on everyday Hebrew at whatever
date we imagine Prov 31 to have been written.

In other words, I can't see any reason why bar 'son' could not appear at any
date you care to suggest for Prov 31.

If you are interested, I did some thinking about Aramaisms, and Prov 30-31, in
my book Diversity in Pre-Exilic Hebrew.

Ian Young
University of Sydney

>    Hi, though I also have questions about Psalm 2, this question is about
>Proverbs 31,
>under the assumption that it was written by Soloman, between the first and
>Temple periods
>Proverbs 31 1-3 -KJV
>The words of king Lemuel, the prophecy that his mother taught him.
>What, my son? and what, the son of my womb? and what, the son of my vows?
>Give not thy strength unto women, nor thy ways to that which destroyeth
>Clearly, contextually the verse *shouts* for the usage "son"
>However, the following arguments are made that it is still
>simply the Hebrew... eg.. "purity"
>  before Hezekiah, before the babylonian exile..
>     so it can't mean 'son' since they didn't use Aramaic then.
>There are three places in the writings of the Rabbis that agree to that,
>in fact in one of them it explicitly addresses the problem.
>Had 'bar' been in use in Hebrew at such an early period it would have
>in the prophetic writings, and certainly in those that were written late
>like Jeremiah.
>There is Biblical proof that Aramaic was NOT even known to the
>populous in a period well over a hundred years after Solomon.
>offhand, I don't have the supposed proof alluded to in the last one,
>tho I can likely get it..
>Your opinion, on any level, of these arguments
>Thank you...
>Schmuel at
>Steven in Queens, NY :-)

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